In a couple of short days, Christmas will have come and gone. The annual scramble of shopping, entertaining and braving the holiday traffic will have ended. 

But first, there's still time to bake one more batch of cookies.

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These Hazelnut Cookies with Fig Preserves taste like a warm hug from an old friend. Plus, the pretty pinwheel shapes are delightful for the holidays.

Santa is going to love them, too, so be sure to set a few aside along with a glass of milk for when St. Nick visits.

Once the holiday is past, I’ll be looking for a simple meal and some quiet time with a purring cat in my lap. 

There is a gourmet mushroom grower who regularly sells quite a variety of mushrooms at my local farmers market. On my last visit, I bought a few of three different varieties — shiitake, pioppino and grey oyster. Each has its own flavor, but all are mild enough to meld nicely in the same dish.

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Because mushrooms contain some fiber, protein, potassium and vitamins B6 and D — and I will need all of those after long days of working and preparing — I decided to make a creamy mushroom soup. It will be the perfect meal to cozy up with after Christmas.

I hope you all have a peaceful and joyous holiday season. I wish you time to enjoy cookies and a warm bowl of comforting food. Let's all try to take some time to recharge and reflect before the New Year begins.

Hazelnut Cookies with Fig Preserves

Makes 1 dozen cookies. Recipe is by Teresa B. Day.

½ cup shortening

¾ cup sugar

1 large egg

1 tablespoon milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon hazelnut extract

1¼ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup fig jam or preserves

1. Cream shortening, sugar and egg with mixer. Add milk, vanilla and hazelnut extracts, mix well.

2. Gradually add flour, baking powder and salt. Cover dough tightly and chill for 8 hours to overnight.

3. Roll dough into a rectangle, about ¼-inch thick.

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4. Gently spread the fig preserves evenly on the dough, leaving an inch of space all around.

5. Roll up the dough like a jelly roll and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill or freeze until firm enough to cut.

6. Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease a small baking sheet.

7. Slice the chilled roll of dough into ¼-inch rounds. Place on prepared baking pan.

8. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the cookies just start to brown. Cool on racks. Store in an airtight container.

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Makes 4-6 servings. Recipe is by Teresa B. Day.

5 cups of mushrooms, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 stick butter

3 tablespoons flour

1 cup vegetable broth

1½ cups half-and-half

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons sherry

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced

1. In a heavy saucepan, saute mushrooms, onion and garlic in butter over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until mushrooms and onion are tender.

2. Stir in flour. Then slowly stir in broth. At this point, you can leave the soup chunky or blend with an immersion blender or transfer to a blender.

3. Add half-and-half then broth and heat to simmering. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

4. Stir in sherry, thyme and parsley. Serve hot.


Teresa B. Day is a local food writer and author of the “I Eat BR” blog. Contact her at ieatbrla@gmail.com.